We recently returned from a driving vacation from Tucson to Montana.Here are some brief reviews of the culinary highlights.
Santa Fe: We ate at Cafe Pasqual's. While the food was good and the service pleasant and relatively prompt, we were frankly underwhelmed. Based on the reviews I had read, I expected more of a wow factor. There were four of us, and we started with Napo's Pupusa, which was the best thing we had, and quite delicious. I had the grilled chipotle shrimp tacos with queso cotija, spanish rice, avocado and salsa fresca. The shrimp were overcooked and tough, served on two fried flour tortillas smeared with a couple of tablespoons of beans, sprinkled with eight or ten very small cubes of avocado and an equal number of tomato cubes (the salsa fresca?) and a little cheese. It was fine, but for $29, I expected something tastier and perhaps a bit more of the condiments. The other entrees (green curry tofu, ahi tuna) were also good, but far from great.
Casper, WY: Dinner was at Wonder Bar, a microbrewery in an old rehabbed building in downtown Casper. The beer, burgers and fries were quite good. In our rambles around town, it appeared to be one of the best options for decent dining.
Gardiner, MT/ Yellowstone National Park: We stayed in Gardiner at the north entrance to the park. We had two decent dinners at Pedalino's, an Italian restaurant in Gardiner. Gardiner is a tiny town, and there are not many possibilities. Given that, this is a good choice. In addition, we had a delicious lunch at Tumbleweeds, a sandwich shop in Gardiner. We had very good lunches at the Old Faithful Inn (in the dining room, and from the deli), Mammoth (the grill and the main dining room) and Yellowstone Lake Hotel. We visited the park last five years ago and thought the food had improved immensely since then.
Grand Teton National Park: We stayed at the Jackson Lake Lodge and had a great dinner in the Mural Room (the fancy, expensive option), and many good breakfasts and lunches in the Pioneer Grill at the Lodge. Great pizza overlooking the lake at Leek's Marina, up the road from the Lodge.
Jackson, WY: We had a delicious meal and great wine at Koshu, an asian-influenced wine bar. The dishes were inventive and beautifully presented, the service warm and efficient and the atmosphere cool and relaxing. I highly recommend it.
Evanston, WY: We stumbled across the Main Street Deli in this little town and had a great homemade lunch served by a delightful waitress. I had the meatloaf sandwich, and it was delicious.
Salina, UT: Mom's Restaurant has been serving food here since he 1920's. It's a diner, and its specialty is homemade scones, which are really large discs of yummy fried dough, served warm with honey butter. The chicken soup with noodles and dumplings (all made there) was also really good.
SLC: We had dinner at Sage's Cafe, a casual vegan restaurant located near downtown in an old house. This place is great, and the three meat eaters enjoyed it as much as the vegetarian in our group. We started with the carrot pate on toasted baguette slices, which was creamy, carroty and very tasty. The entrees were uniformly delicious, the wine selection small, but good, and the service warm and efficient. Highly recommended.